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how to prep pumpkin for cooking

GIF Guide: How to Cook a Pumpkin

Pumpkins are more than a canvas for your jack-o’-lantern. This seasonal squash is one of the best ways to add a distinct fall flavor to any recipe. Plus, they offer a host of health benefits, like boosted vision, lower blood pressure, and improved sleep.


Overwhelmed with the thought of prepping a pumpkin? With a sharp knife and the right technique, breaking down a pumpkin for cooking is easy. Here’s how to get started:


Start Off by Breaking Down the Pumpkin



Step 1: Wash your pumpkin, paying attention to any hidden clods of dirt. Dry it well so you have a good grip when cutting.



Step 2: If you have a large or very round pumpkin, carefully cut off the bottom so that it sits flat and stable. If you have a stem that won’t come off, cut off the top.



Step 3: Place the flattest side on the cutting board. Cut the pumpkin in half from stem to bottom.



Step 4: Use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds. Set the seeds aside to roast and eat later.



Step 5: Place half of the pumpkin flat side down on the cutting board. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin. Repeat with the other half.



Step 6: Cut the pumpkin into your desired size.



Then Choose Your Cooking Method


  1. Roast It



Place pumpkin pieces on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and bake at 400°F until tender.



Ways to Use Roasted Pumpkin:

  • Toss with other roasted veggies. Chop up parsnips, yams, carrots, and onions to make a delicious vegetable medley.
  • Add to a grain bowl along with other vegetables. Try grilled portobello, onion, zucchini, carrot and avocado.
  • Use as a hearty topper on salads or stews.
  • Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and your favorite herbs to serve as a side dish.


  1. Cook the Seeds



Rinse and pat dry. Spread on parchment-covered baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 400°F. You’ll know the seeds are ready when they become plump and brown.



Ways to Use Pumpkin Seeds:

  • Toss with salt and enjoy as a snack.
  • Use as a topping for salads or soups.
  • Add to baking recipes like cookies, breads, etc.


  1. Make a Puree



Instead of buying canned pumpkin, you can also make your own puree. Simply blend pumpkin — roasted or steamed — with butter, cream, salt, and pepper until smooth. Add a little water to get the texture you desire. Leftovers freeze well and are handy for future meals.


Ways to Use Pumpkin Puree:

  • Mix into baking batter for churros, breads, waffles, and baked goods.
  • Stir into comfort foods like macaroni and cheese, fondue, and soups.
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